Radical Change: Returning From Maternity Leave During A Pandemic

BY Kai Nicol-SchwarzJuly 6, 2020

A truth universal to parents everywhere: it’s a big adjustment returning to full time work post-parental leave. The job you return to might be familiar, but your sleep pattern and home life have completely changed. So far, so manageable, right?

How about returning from maternity leave in the middle of a global pandemic, when the future of your industry has been thrown into turmoil and the state of play has rapidly and radically shifted?

Our Huckletree D2 General Manager Ais has been with us since 2017, when we launched our Dublin hub. She went on maternity leave back at the end of September 2019, three weeks before her son Conall was due – a few months before coronavirus became the zeitgeist of 2020. While we’ve all had lots to adapt to, Ais has a slightly different perspective, having rejoined the business as we visualise and prepare for a very different future.

I spoke to her about lockdown with a newborn, coming back to Huckletree during the biggest health crisis since World War II, and the importance of mindfulness in times of uncertainty.

ON GOING ON MATERNITY LEAVE…

“It felt strange to be logging off for nine months. Huckletree was my baby for two years, and as General Manager I had launched and grown the business in Dublin with the team. Walking away from it for such a long time was hard. Handing over the GM reins was tough but I also knew that it was time for me to start my exciting new role as a parent.”

ON COPING AS A NEW PARENT DURING LOCKDOWN…

“Isolation can be prevalent among new parents as most of the first few weeks are spent at home with your baby. Moving from a fast paced routine focused on productivity and ticking off to-do lists into a slow paced life was quite hard! By the time lockdown came along in March I had adjusted to spending more time at home and so it honestly wasn’t that much of a shock to the system. It was harder for my partner Matthew as he is a teacher and he had to teach online from our bedroom! Not being able to see our families was difficult for both of us, as our parents and siblings are our support system. It’s great having them back as babysitters now!”

ON RETURNING TO THE BUSINESS DURING COVID-19…

“The pandemic has meant that we have all had to rethink the way we work and live. We have all missed human connection and shared workspaces like Huckletree serve such an important purpose in bringing people back together. People are starting to come back to work now and there is great excitement in the air as we all catch up with each other…”

ON THE FUTURE OF THE SHARED WORKSPACE…

“Most of the working population have now experienced the pros and cons of working from home. Companies will be less willing to enter into long leases and will most likely offer more flexible working arrangements as a result. Coworking will be more appealing to more companies and individuals now. I don’t think smaller teams and individuals will work from home forever. People strive for purpose and belonging to a collective group like Huckletree allows them to fulfill this desire.”

ON HOLDING REGULAR YOGA SESSIONS AT D2…

“In times of crisis it’s natural to be swept up in external noise and absorb anxiety. We forget to slow down and rest. It’s so important to step away from the screens at regular intervals during the day. Yoga helps people to stay present through focusing on the breath, body and mind. You become very self aware through regular practise and learn to reduce negative self talk. Many of our daily routines simply disappeared during lockdown and now is a great time to get back to the mat and start being kind to ourselves again.”

ON BEING BACK AT HUCKLETREE…

“I’ve missed people, conversations and good coffee! Huckletree D2 has all three in abundance, so it’s great to be back!”

Ais, it’s great to have you back, flying the Huckletree flag in Dublin. For the D2ers out there, head down to The Studio every Monday at 1PM for some suitably-distanced weekly yoga sessions. New parent or not, it’s more important than ever to find time for yourself.

AUTHOR

Kai Nicol-Schwarz